by JOHN HAYWARD at breitbart.com
Leaked documents have implicated Qatari Ambassador Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani — currently his country’s representative to the U.S. and formerly its ambassador to France — in alleged efforts to bribe a French minister and spy on U.S. lawmakers.
Al-Thani’s name came up in documents exposed by Project Raven, itself an international scandal that involved more than a dozen former U.S. intelligence operatives going to work for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as electronic surveillance specialists.
Project Raven began during the Obama administration with a certain degree of officially approved cooperation between the U.S. and UAE intelligence services, which led to Qatar aggressively hiring U.S. intelligence veterans with advanced electronic surveillance skills. The project was seen by U.S. officials as a useful tool against international terrorist groups — such as al-Qaeda — in its early days.
The UAE began using its American hires to collect intelligence on a growing constellation of security threats, including Qatar, which has often been at odds with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). These tensions led to a GCC boycott and a partial blockade of Qatar between 2017 and 2021.
When Reuters exposed Project Raven in a series of 2019 reports, some of the American intelligence officers the UAE hired said they felt the program started going off the rails around 2016, with surveillance extending to human rights activists, journalists, political dissidents, and Western targets, including Americans.
In 2016, the UAE told its cyberintelligence contractors they could either begin working for an Emirati firm called DarkMatter or quit the program and go home. Soon afterward, the UAE cyberwar unit began hacking into the smartphones of targets that included numerous Qatari officials, all the way up to the Emir of Qatar himself